Facebook is testing moving News + Brand Pages to a separate feed

A Facebook update that is currently being tested in 6 countries will make the default Newsfeed just for friends (and ads), and a separate feed for news and brand pages that you follow. The knock-on effect for brands and publishers could be devastating as pages in test countries have seen a dramatic drop in traffic since the test began as highlighted by Slovakian journalist Filip Struharik. Organic reach for brands on Facebook fell off a cliff back in 2014, but a shake-up like this could make it even tougher for Pages to get noticed – unless they are willing to pay of course.


Posted by Rob in Facebook, Media

The opportunity in interactive video

Originally featured in the August 27th 2017 issue of Campaign Middle East

It’s hardly a revelation to say that video content has never been as popular as it is right now. Whether it be on Facebook, YouTube, Display, or increasingly, Snapchat & Instagram, more and more of users’ time online is spent consuming video in some form. By the end of this year, KPCB estimates that video content will account for 74% of all online traffic, and Mark Zuckerberg has even said that he expects Facebook to be almost entirely video within the next five years. But while the digital video format itself has never been more accessible, many of the digital video ads that tend to make it out into the wild don’t truly take advantage of the opportunities that digital channels allow. Most still ape TV spots that have been adapted to digital – a new format but an old mindset. While television is a passive channel, digital is not, and its potential is currently not being fully utilized. Consequently, we seem to have reached a point where viewers have become numb to video on digital channels – not surprising when you consider the slew of formats that seem to have gotten increasingly aggressive in recent years such as un-skippable pre-rolls, auto-playing sound-on ads, and now the particularly jarring mid-roll videos that burst into your viewing experience half-way through.

Viewers are fed up of video ads taking over their digital experiences and forcing them to passively bear witness to their marketing message. In 2017, most consumers are used to interacting with content on digital channels, especially on mobile. Many expect a certain level of interactivity. Users are familiar with gamified experiences and tend to tune-out at the first sign of a countdown to skip an ad. As attention spans seemingly decrease, passive content just isn’t grabbing users’ attention as it once did.

Things are looking up though as the range of functionality open to digital video is getting broader and broader all the time. Interactive videos have been around in some form for a few years now, but this trend is starting to become more prevalent of late, especially outside of advertising. Just this summer Netflix introduced a series of interactive shows for children that allow them to make choices throughout each episode that dictate the journey the episode takes. This all seems like quite a novel idea for kid’s TV shows, but imagine being able to control what happens to your favourite characters, or reveal alternative scenes in shows like House of Cards or Game of Thrones. What better way to keep viewers engaged than by getting them involved and letting them influence the the content itself, right? The same goes for advertising too.

Choice-driven videos have been shown to work especially well in a story-telling and educational capacity. The UK Resuscitation Council used such an approach in a campaign to teach viewers the basics of giving CPR by presenting them with an emergency scenario where they have to make a set of choices to save someone’s life. The thinking behind it is that involving the viewer in the process in this way provides for a much more visceral experience, and by getting viewers to interact with the content, they are much more likely to absorb the information.

We are also starting to see more examples of mobile video utilizing the particular features of the smartphone itself to enable the viewer to interact with the content in a more intuitive way. AdColony’s new Aurora HD mobile video ad format lets users manipulate video content by tapping, tilting or swiping during a video. A recent treasure hunt style video to promote the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie showcased the impressive graphical elements that can be used to immerse the viewer in the video while adding a gamified element to the experience. Similarly, a recent campaign from Visit Britain let viewers use their mobile device’s gyroscope to switch between visual tours of several different parts of the country by pointing their mobile either North, South, East or West to see what each part of the country has to offer.

These features can be used in a host of ways to let viewers define their own journey, answer questions, buy products, access exclusive content, complete forms and much more, all from within the video itself. There’s still a great deal of potential left to explore with interactive video, and with Facebook trying to muscle in on TV-style programming with its new ‘Watch’ platform and Snapchat et al yet to truly take advantage of this format either, advertisers better start thinking about how they might adapt their current approach to video for a more interactive future.

Posted by Rob in Advertising, Campaign Magazine, Mobile

Two of the best AR implementations I’ve seen yet

I absolutely love this implementation of Apple’s AR kit! Imagine sitting down in a restaurant and being able to physically see your food on your plate before you order? I’ve being thinking of this as a really practical AR use case for a while but I’m seriously impressed at how well this prototype looks.

In the automotive industry, Chevrolet have rolled-out an impressive AR virtual showroom in Korea that let’s users check-out the latest models wherever they are.

Posted by Rob in Apple, Augmented Reality

BBC research on consumer attitudes to VR

Virtual Reality has been a hot topic for the last couple of years, but for many general consumers the jury is still very much out on how useful the platform is on a day-to-day basis outside the sphere of gaming. That’s why it’s interesting to dive into the BBC’s latest research on how the average consumer feels about VR.

The general consensus is that for VR to be successful it needs simple, intuitive and consistent interfaces, better curation and content discovery, and a higher supply of quality content which is ‘worth the effort’, i.e. not something that they can simply watch on TV instead. Below is a very broad recap:

  1. What did audiences think about VR before they’d actually tried it?
    • Most participants were broadly excited about the prospect, but mainly associated VR with gaming.
    • Some were worried about getting nauseous or looking silly in front of friends and family.
  2. How did participants react to their first experience?
    • Participants were ‘equally enthralled and delighted’.
    • Their initial – fairly low – expectations were far outstripped in terms of the quality of the experience.
  3. What content resonated?
    • Generally participants wanted to get straight to experiences designed to get your blood pumping, things like horror, rollercoasters and other extreme experiences that they wouldn’t normally do and which had some novelty value.
    • Leading the audience on a journey is crucial; experiences without a narrative or goal tended to fall flat – experiences with good story-telling or clear objectives worked well.
    • Presence and embodiment were also important as the viewer must feel ‘there’ to be immersed (e.g. a Cirque du Soleil experience where the characters made plenty of eye contact with the viewer).
    • Audiences need time to process and understand what is happening around them before being able to follow a narrative. When and where to draw their attention is also fundamentally important.
  4. What are the key challenges to overcome for VR to become mainstream?
    1. Many of the participants found the user interface to be tricky.
    2. Often the way to navigate around various VR environments differs from app to app.
    3. Difficulty discovering new content was a huge issue.
    4. Some users were concerned about being shut-off from what’s happening around them.
    5. Social norming – some were anxious about feeling stupid in front of friends.
    6. Physical space – often audiences weren’t in the right physical situation – sitting down on a sofa after a long day or lying in bed is not conducive to an experience which necessitates turning around and looking behind you.
    7. Proximity of headset – the headset needs to be conveniently available.
    8. Social interaction – for some audiences the insular / individual nature of the experience was off-putting.
    9. Often the headsets or the screens of the phone will be dirty, blurring or obscuring the images.
    10. The phone must be charged.
    11. If you haven’t used your headset for a while, you might forget how to use it.
    12. Many handsets overheated after 30 or so minutes of usage.
    13. Variable Wi-Fi quality leading to poor content resolutions and slow download speeds.

Check it out for yourself here.

Posted by Rob in Virtual Reality

Apple finally flexes its AR muscles

At last week’s Worldwide Developer Conference we finally got to see what Apple has up its sleeve when it comes to Augmented Reality. This is huge for the AR space as this basically lets developers create AR tools for any app, not just a walled garden like Facebook which we heard from in this regard recently.

This breakdown from Benedict Evans explains it better than I can:

“As was entirely predictable, Apple has added APIs for augmented reality. The phone uses the camera and motion sensors to do rock-solid positional reaching – you can tap on your screen to place a game on a table in front of you, walk around it, wave the phone around and all the action stays locked in place. This is hard for anyone without Apple’s integrated model to match. Facebook announced its own AR APIs in the spring, but they don’t have the hardware integration (nor a history of being a reliable development partner), and this is something that naturally belongs in the operating system. AR is the hot thing now, and the demos are cool, but this is also, of course, a natural building block for the mixed reality glasses that Apple is widely rumored to be working on for sale in a couple of years (equally, the Apple Watch and AirPods are probably hardware building blocks for this). When it comes, the first apps will already be there.”

Check out Venture Beat’s demo below:

Posted by Rob in Apple